Sunday night we took Fabio’s advice and found the small mall around the corner from our hotel in Guatemala City as he said the best restaurants were to be found there. We wandered in and realised that it was pretty upmarket when we noticed some international brands plus an indoor car dealership selling expensive sports cars. We walked around and weren’t really drawn to any of the food offerings so ended up deciding on Chinese. It was definitely the wrong choice – the food was average and the price was astronomical!
Up early Monday morning for the five am shuttle to the airport. It was on time and full…. It was chaotic at Guatemala City airport even at that time in the morning but we eventually made our way through the crowds and found the check in kiosk for American Airlines. Got checked in, bags dropped, and went through security. Not too bad an experience but we were glad to be on our way.
The new AA plane took off on time and we enjoyed playing the seatback brain training games to while away the short hop to Dallas Fort Worth.
We arrived ahead of schedule and, as we were disembarking, we were a bit shocked to see a large plane fuselage on fire just by the control tower. Oh no…that doesn’t look good! Everyone was watching through the window and, eventually, the fire was brought under control. We got through the automated passport control kiosks and were referred to a live person for the final check – all going very smoothly – until it was my turn and, of course, my profile crashed the computer! Hmmmm…… Well, the Homeland Security guy was really chatty and told us that the burning plane was an exercise – phew glad about that! Anyway he restarted his computer to no avail….so he got me dealt with by his colleague without having to wait in another line. That was a relief. Then we picked up bags – quickly cleared customs – and followed the signs to recheck them onto our next flight.
We took the airport shuttle to the domestic terminal and, having cleared security again with our hand luggage getting the usual extra attention, we got to our gate for the next flight to Minneapolis. We didn’t have a lot of time so ended up with a quick chicken meal. Richard took the middle seat and ended up being squished by the huge lady sitting next to him – so big that she took half of his seat – and she eagerly demolished a whole family sized bag of sweets during the trip whilst watching Downton Abbey on her tablet. Glad she didn’t ask us anything as we’ve never watched it LOL.
We arrived on time in Minneapolis, collected our bags, and were met by Ruth. It was lovely to see her. Realising that she was limping we found out that she had very recently had surgery on her knee. We drove the couple of hours trip to their beautiful lake home in Wisconsin and was met by Dan who had just returned from golf. We had a lovely reunion over pizza….and there were a few reunion Dark & Stormys consumed!
Tuesday morning, after a leisurely breakfast, we decided to make the most of the weather as it was so warm out – and the forecast was for it to deteriorate later in the week. So Richard and Dan headed to the golf range and the shops while Ruth and I got the speed boat out and went for a lake drift and a girlie catch up.
Later on we spotted Richard and Dan on the dock so we went back and picked them up before heading back out on the water. And, of course, we had to celebrate the reunion properly by having a bobbing session in the lake – sadly Ruth couldn’t come in the water at this point as she hadn’t been given the all clear from the hospital – but she was a handy boat barmaid for replenishments LOL.
Back to their beautiful home and we had Dan’s speciality of home-smoked ribs on the deck with fresh corn – fantastic! It was a lovely day.
Wednesday and Dan, Richard and I headed out to a family farm to pick fresh corn – and met Ruth’s Uncle Lee who was a great character and, at 94 years old, was still going strong. Amazing. This area of the US is flat and stretches for miles of stunning farmland.
We came back and then the rain started to come down. So we spent a while playing cards which was great fun and Richard, unusually, was the winner! When the rain cleared we decided to go out on the boat for a sunset cruise – really nice way to see the sun go down.
Back on terra firm and Dan went into BBQ mode, this time it was New Year Strip steaks. Yumm…..
Thursday morning and Ruth had to go for a medical check-up so we had a lazy morning. She returned very happy as she had been given the all clear to go swimming in the lake – yippee…. The weather was lovely and warm again so we headed down to the dock – and had a few pontoonies….
Today it was absolutely stunning with the clouds reflecting on the still water. This is such a beautiful place to live although I didn’t fancy the stories of the ice and snow in the long winter! We reminisced about our old system of purchasing odd (Morpheus) and even (Evensong) rounds of beer – although no need to walk up the beach to fetch them here though LOL. Oh yes, Ruth and I jumped into the lake for a little bob so that she could, at last, enjoy the water.
Thursday evening we picked at leftovers from the previous couple of days plus, of course, some more fresh corn! And then, suddenly, the weather changed and the clouds were heavy and black. So we took ourselves to the front porch – beer in hand of course – and watched the weather coming in. It was a pretty good rain storm.
Friday morning and it was still raining so we headed out to go shopping and managed to pick up a few necessary items like a new laptop and a Bluetooth speaker!!! Both were better value and higher specification than the UK – despite the poor exchange rate – so was definitely worth the effort. We then went on to visit the Jacob Leinenkugal Brewing Company which is a famous brewery in Wisconsin. We had a great time visiting the shop and tasting their range of brews – my favourite was the Red Grapefruit. Very refreshing! Richard preferred the Leinies original. Great time had by all…..
We then headed out to a local restaurant called Cameron House – a pretty ordinary exterior – but a very friendly and homely interior with great food. Feeling completely full we headed back to the house and all ended up having an early night – Dan’s 9.17 pm falling asleep deadline appears to be catching LOL.
Saturday morning and we had another relaxed start before heading out around 2pm to Still Water, Minnesota. This is a quaint tourist town on the river full of interesting little quirky stores and lots of bars and restaurants. Oh yes and, of course, there was a West Marine so we had to visit – was almost like old times and Richard managed to find some more boat stuff to buy….
In the town we particularly enjoyed the kitchen store and I loved the unique olive oil shop – sesame oil got my approval while Dan did not enjoy the truffle oil LOL. Wandering around Richard fancied the Madcapper Husband DayCare Centre but we didn’t let him or Dan indulge themselves! Sadly we didn’t have time to indulge ourselves further by trying out the bars as we were meeting the newlyweds Andy and Kirstin for an early dinner.
We all met up and had a fantastic dinner – Richard and I both opted for the lamb as we had felt deprived of this for a long while – and thought that this was the best food we had tasted in the US. Fantastic flavours and very well executed. Great evening and lovely to catch up with Andy and Kirstin too.
On the way back to Wisconsin we stopped for another drink …. And we kept Dan awake throughout the journey even though we didn’t get back until after 10 LOL.
Sunday morning and it was already our last day. Couldn’t believe that the week had gone by so quickly. Ruth and I decided to head out to the casino for a girlie trip – while the guys did another golfing range run.
When Ruth and I decided to return home we realised that Dan, Richard and Danny had gone out on the Hobie Cat. So Ruth and I filled a cooler and took ourselves off in the speed boat to find them. They were having a great sail around and we cruised by a few times before heading back to the dock.
They finally returned and while Ruth, Richard and Danny put the boats to bed I escaped to the kitchen to chop some ingredients while Dan popped out to get some last minute ingredients. Tonight we were being treated to Dan’s smoked meat paella. It was scrumptious!
After dinner we all played Guitar Hero with Danny showing us up with his expert skills – before finally retiring to bed at almost 11 pm, definitely almost a Dan record. What a fantastic fun-filled trip – can’t believe it was only one more sleep before going home.
Monday morning and we were up early and packed our bags. By 10 we had said sad farewells to Dan at home while Ruth drove us to the airport in Minneapolis. We had a good run and just before 12 noon we said sad farewells to Ruth too. Had been a fantastic trip – thank you both so much – we had a wonderful time.
We got our first flight having grabbed a sandwich first and found ourselves on one of the older American Airlines planes – but it was only a couple of hours to Dallas Fort Worth our first stop. We were slightly late arriving into Texas as we had to route around a few thunderstorms in the area. We finally got off the plane and made our way on the Sky Train to the international terminal.
We found our gate and were surprised to find that they were already boarding although the departure time was almost 45 minutes away. So no time to wait or hang around – suits us. This was a lovely new plane again and was only about half full so, once the doors were locked, people spread out so we had three seats between us so that was nice. We took off on time as the rain started to fall and quickly reached our cruising altitude before there was the most spectacular sunset…..
Back to a heat wave in London this morning – Tuesday – and the traffic wasn’t too bad so we got home pretty quickly. We have had a few hours sleep and are looking forward to catching up with family and friends soon.
Bye for now